Watsonians took the Capital bragging rights when they saw off Heriot’s 16-5 in last night’s Tennent’s Premiership encounter at Myreside.
The result means that Sonians now sit fourth in the table, a point behind last night’s opponents, although that could change if Currie Chieftains can see off Ayr at Malleny Park today.
What it does mean, however, is that Edinburgh sides occupy four of the top six slots in the league table and the race for play-off positions promises to be tense.
For the second time this season, the decision to play under the lights on a Friday night paid dividends, with the fixture drawing a large crowd – the same had happened when Sonians hosted Edinburgh Accies earlier in the campaign.
And the spectators were treated to a keenly contested contest played at pace, and featuring two teams looking to run the ball when given an opportunity. However, despite their endeavours in attack, it was the defensive efforts that proved to be the foundation on which the success was built.
Indeed, both teams were solid and it took a powerful surge by the Watsonians pack to produce the only try of the night.
Sonians easily absorbed a spell of pressure before edging into the lead with five minutes on the clock when Lee Millar stroked over a penalty.
The visitors responded with an extended spell on the attack. The home defence held firm and it was Sonians who were next to claim points when Millar steered a drop goal between the posts to double his side’s lead.
Millar registered a rare miss when he was just wide with a long-range penalty effort after half an hour. However, the momentum had shifted once more and the home players were enjoying the bulk of the possession.
A powerful run by Charlie McKill provided the platform for a string of assaults on the Heriot’s line. The Goldenacre men defended desperately, but they managed to hold out until the final play of the half when Ruaridh Leishman pounced to snatch turnover ball to leave the deficit at six points and set up an engrossing second period.
The home side made the better restart but, as had happened in the first half, the Heriot’s defence held firm. The breakthrough finally came in 54 minutes when a powerful drive saw a heap of bodies cross the whitewash. Tighthead prop Jack Stanley was credited with applying the final touch, while Millar added the extras to leave Heriot’s needing two tries to have any hope of winning.
Millar then tugged a penalty effort left of the target as the hosts continued to dominate proceedings. But he rediscovered his range to add a further three points to the Sonians haul and ensure there was no way back for the visitors.
Watsonians had Ross Graham and Rory Hutton sent to the sin bin. Heriot’s sought to profit from their additional personnel and finished the game strongly, and they finally bagged a consolation try when Craig Robertson raced on to a chip through from Dom Martin. But it was too little, too late.
“It was a big defensive effort. We needed to win that – it was really important. I thought we were quite smart in how we played,” said delighted home coach Steve Lawrie. “It could have gone either way – tight margins but we came out on top and that was important.”
Heriot’s coach Phil Smith said: “We could build pressure but we didn’t keep the ball long enough. Watsonians, defensively, were excellent. But defences loosen up when you put them under pressure on the scoreboard and we just didn’t do that.”